Levi Stubbs, Four Tops Frontman Dead At 72

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Principessa, Oct 17, 2008.

  1. Principessa

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    Four Tops frontman Levi Stubbs dead at 72

    Top hits included ‘I Can't Help Myself,’ ‘Bernadette’
    The Associated Press


    DETROIT - Four Tops lead singer Levi Stubbs, who possessed one of the most dynamic and emotive voices of all the Motown singers, died Friday at 72.

    He had been ill recently and died in his sleep at the Detroit house he shared with his wife, said Dana Meah, the wife of a grandson. The Wayne County medical examiner’s office also confirmed the death.

    With Stubbs in the lead, the Four Tops sold millions of records, including such hits as “Baby I Need Your Loving,” “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” and “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch).”

    The group performed for more than four decades without a change in personnel. Stubbs’ death leaves one surviving member of the original group: Abdul “Duke” Fakir.

    Stubbs “fits right up there with all the icons of Motown,” said Audley Smith, chief operating officer of the Motown Historical Museum. “His voice was as unique as Marvin’s or as Smokey’s or as Stevie’s.”

    The Four Tops began singing together in 1953 under the group name the Four Aims and signed a deal with Chess Records. They later changed their names to the Four Tops to avoid being confused with the Ames Brothers.

    They also recorded for Red Top, Riverside and Columbia Records and toured supper clubs.

    ‘Major pros’ even before Motown
    The Four Tops signed with Motown Records in 1963 and produced 20 Top-40 hits over the next 10 years, making music history with the other acts in Berry Gordy’s Motown stable.

    Their biggest hits were recorded between 1964 and 1967 with the in-house songwriting and production team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland. Both 1965’s “I Can’t Help Myself” and 1966’s “Reach Out” went to No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart.

    Other hits included “Shake Me, Wake Me” (1966); “Bernadette” and “Standing in the Shadows of Love” (both 1967).

    They toured for decades afterward and reached the charts as late as 1988 with “Indestructible” on Arista Records. In 1986, Stubbs provided the voice for Audrey II the man-eating plant in the film “Little Shop of Horrors.” The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

    Original Top Lawrence Payton died of liver cancer in 1997. Renaldo “Obie” Benson died of lung cancer in 2005.

    Stubbs was born in 1936 in Detroit and attended Pershing High School, where he sang with Fakir. They met fellow Detroiters Payton and Benson while singing at a mutual friend’s birthday party, then decided to form a group.

    “These are four of the greatest people I have ever known. They were major pros even before they came to Motown,” Gordy said when the Four Tops’ star was unveiled in Hollywood.

    Stubbs is survived by his wife, five children and 11 grandchildren.
     
  2. MASSIVEPKGO_CHUCK

    MASSIVEPKGO_CHUCK Well-Known Member

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    Damn, what a shame. I remember listening to some of his music. I especially remember him in LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS as the sassy man-eating plant. I think later he did a commercial for some fruit drink company. Pity.
     
  3. DGirl

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    :frown1:
     
  4. flame boy

    flame boy Account Disabled

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    The Four Tops were an epic Motown force, Stubbs was an amazing talent and I am very sad to hear of his passing. ''I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)'' is always forever playing on my iPod. Rest easy dude.
     
  5. B_Hickboy

    B_Hickboy New Member

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    He was one of my heroes.
     
  6. ManlyBanisters

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    Aw... I hadn't read this - I loved his voice. RIP :frown:
     
  7. b.c.

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    I came from a somewhat eclectic background, having grown up in early life with kids from all over the world (army brat), hence my somewhat unusual musical tastes (rock and such). But then there was also the social life of a teenager here in N'Awlins in the late 60's and early '70...the places we went, the gang we hung with... and groups like the Four Tops, the Motown sound in general, were the backdrop for many a house party, or other social gathering.

    For almost every song it seems there is a particular memory of a special time, a special place, a golden moment - and hearing the music always brings the memories back, as if they were yesterday. And maybe in a way, they are.

    Today we've lost another piece of Americana.
     
    #7 b.c., Oct 17, 2008
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2008
  8. Yorkie

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    I agree,he had an amazing voice.Another one of the greats has gone...
     
  9. D_Bob_Crotchitch

    D_Bob_Crotchitch New Member

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    It's sad. I loved the Four Tops. I guess it means we are getting old. Not that the grey in our pubes doesn't already tell us that fact.
     
  10. killerb

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    That man had an awesome voice...and apparently he was an extraordinarily loyal friend as well...

    I heard today that despite many major record labels' attempts to lure him away from the group for a solo career, he resisted them all because he loved the group that much...
     
  11. agnslz

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    I love the Four Tops. Reach Out, Standing in the Shadows of Love, Bernadette and Ask the Lonely are my favorite songs of theirs. His voice was quite original and made those songs.

    My favorite line of his from that movie:

    "Believe it, baby. It talks!"
     
  12. MASSIVEPKGO_CHUCK

    MASSIVEPKGO_CHUCK Well-Known Member

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    He was so cool & sassy in that movie it was surreal. But I think his more classic line at the end was when Audrey II was electrocuted, "Oh, SHIT!!"
     
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